Tuesday, May 24, 2016

The Shipwreck

If we were willing to admit it, most of us feel a bit uneasy, a little squirmish about life as it really is. 

We want something more. We want something better.

Everyone wishes they had something they don’t .

The grass is always greener on my friends’ Facebook pages.

Each of us wishes we didn’t have something we do. 

We want to change, but when push comes to shove, change is difficult. Sometimes, it seems almost impossible.

I used to say that the only way people would change is when the pain of status quo becomes greater than the pain of change.

I still believe that this is largely true in most cases, but there is a bit more to our lives’ stories than the physiological truth of greater-pain-pushing-out-lesser-pain.

But I digress…

Squeezed between desirable not-havings and unwanted havings,  we think a chest-full of treasure would magically solve most if not all of our current problems.

We all have our own vision of a relatively easy escape from our current predicament. 

A sail-boat ride across the smooth seas, with favorable winds in our back, interesting company and ample entertainment to help time pass by until we happily reach our desired destination, strong, healthy and well-rested, buoyed by our new acquired sense of accomplishment, feeling successful for getting through without a scratch or scrape.

Some people have exceptionally vivid imaginations...

The question remains, What happens....

What if the boat which is meant to take me to the answer-all chest, a glass of Cabernet in one hand and the selfie-stick in the other, suddenly runs aground, it’s innards spilling into the raging seas?

What if I find myself awash some god-forsaken island in the middle of the sea-monster infested ocean, looking like a drowned rat, the pieces of the wreckage all around me along with the shards of the empty goblet?

What would I do then?
This is why the Map I found the other day caught me completely off guard.

Because on this map, unlike any other, the real quest for hidden treasure doesn’t really begin in the port as I board the ship.  The real treasure hunt doesn’t truly start until AFTER the shipwreck!

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Compass

In the bottom left corner, the Map has a compass rose, showing directions.





Now, on any ordinary, calm, clear day, when you know exactly where you are and where you are going, one may wonder why would you take up any space at all for something seemingly as useless as a compass? I don't take a compass when I go to the supermarket!

But, every treasure hunter who’s been around long enough would testify about the absolute necessity of an accurate compass.  

If you’ve never been lost or disoriented - in the woods, in a storm, in an unfamiliar city, in the dark  – you would be foolish to rely solely on your own experience, knowledge and senses (useful and important in their limited ability as they may be)  to show you the way.

The seasoned travelers who have journeyed far and wide know very well how easily you can lose your bearings and get turned around. I’ve gotten hopelessly lost in broad daylight by taking just one little wrong turn in my own city. 

In the context of space travel, being even a half a degree off here would parachute you onto a wrong planet or galaxy! Imagine shooting for the Moon, and missing the Milky Way?!!!

Many a captain would testify how difficult at times it can be to determine what’s up and what’s down, what’s right and what’s… left… They know they must rely on their navigational instruments which sometimes go against their own sense of orientation and direction.

This is very difficult to comprehend and even more difficult to follow, when your whole being is screaming, “This way!” and the Compass says, “No, hon, East is THIS way! Trust me and just follow my directions.”

But the maker of our Map is clearly familiar with the vagaries of treasure hunting escapades and  has given a prominent place to the compass rose showing us the direction of the True North.

Jesus said to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but through Me.  John 14:6

Thursday, May 19, 2016

The Treasure Hunter

Today on my walk to school I found a Treasure Map!

It was beautiful, I would say even fancy – a laminated card-stock artistic portrayal of a mysterious island, ready to endure the best and the worst of a toddler’s love and rage. But the Maps's attractive appearance was just a part of it.  In addition to being illustrated the Map also had a list of specific steps to guide you, the Treasure Hunter, to the secret hidden treasure.

Being a bit slow, it dawned on me that some of us need all of the above – the laminate protection, the illustrations AND clearly articulated steps if we stand any chance of ever finding the coveted riches.

When I got home, I pulled the Map out of my backpack and begun to examine it more carefully, like anyone would if they were to learn what they need to do to acquire the buried chest.

The list was clear and simple.  I give it to you here in its entirety.

  1. Jump across the waterfall.
  2. Tiptoe past the sleeping spider.      
  3. Run across the wooden bridge.     
  4. Hop through the base of the volcano.  
  5. Snatch the key from the statue’s mouth.     
  6. Swim through the Sea Monster’s lake.     
  7.  Leap into the ocean.    
  8. Paddle across the raging seas to the island.    
  9. Dig for the treasure!
That’s it! Easy-peasy. Peace of cake.

I verified the Map's instructions' authenticity, tracking the steps along the clearly marked path, and sure enough - there was a waterfall, a sleeping spider, a rickety bridge, a volcano, a statue with a gaping mouth, a lake with a Sea Monster in it, a raging ocean and another tiny island with a treasure chest on it. 

Immediately I knew the Map was authentic.

Friday, May 13, 2016

The Margin

Last winter, while my parents were with us for several months, my Dad was the primary caretaker of our garden. He pruned the trees and bushes. He watered and weeded.  He did all the regular garden maintenance and some.  

The ‘some’ category encompasses all the things we don’t get around doing under the burden of ‘just keeping up’ with life. Being retired and unburdened by the distractions of the life governed by the rhythm and rules utterly foreign to him, he got to do amazing things like fixing the fence! Or, replacing the leaky garden hose. Or, re-setting the sagging gate. 

Or edging.

The last grabbed my attention today.

Back in February, somewhere between reading Anna Karenina and Brothers Karamazov, my dad went around the entire circumference of our garden and dug up a twenty-inch wide ribbon of dirt, an empty space between the lawn and the garden part. This margin made my garden look as if we pay for professional lawn and garden service! It made everything look neat, well taken care of and even peaceful.

Something prompted my dad to go around, dig deep, and with his own hand, one stab of a trowel at a time, create this boundary.  The border that says, “yes” to some things, and “no” to others.  The breathing space between ‘this’ and ‘that’.  The line of delineation where something ends and something else begins.

We all agree that having margin is of vital importance to the health and sanity of our lives. Still most of us in greater or lesser degree struggle both to create and maintain it.  

I noticed today how the empty space created by my dad is being filled with weeds and grass, even rogue seedlings of cilantro, Thai basil and our pink vinkas whose blooms seem to have gone on steroids.  The remnants of my old ‘brown thumb’ me hesitate to uproot anything that resembles a flower or desirable plant even if its crowding out what I am trying to grow during this season.  

Somewhere deep inside, I think it’s a badge of gardening honor to have more stuff growing in my backyard jungle – as if it gives me a bragging right - Look at all the things I’ve learned to grow! 

Related imageBut, today I begin to realize that less indeed might more, and a wide margin with extra space may be as enjoyable and inviting (or perhaps more!) than a crowded Home and Garden Show.

Knowing my wise and perceptive dad, he was onto something. He saw what I was too busy to see for myself and decided that of all things he could have done for me, I needed his help with creating the margin the most.